Thursday, 9 January 2020

Solar Sucess

Its been a while since I posted on here, but there has been some progress recently

I have finished fitting the dual charge system into Katy and have left her over Christmas and the new year without the intelligent battery charger running during which time I would have expected the alarm etc. to have drawn down the battery enough to make the starting at least a little sluggish

However the new split charge system seems to have done its's work well and she started on first turnover

This is the next phase of the system I described installing in the post do-land-rovers-dream-of-electric-sheep and consists of an intelligent device between the main and leisure battery

 Admittedly the wiring looks a little untidy at the moment, its out of sight, but will be sorted finally once I am 100% sure that the new system is working fully as I want. in the mean time all I need to do is pull the passenger seat forwards to get at all of this...

 Another addition has been the installation of a bluetooth controller monitoring system so I can see the state of the system on my phone. It was a very easy install.. plug it in, connect via bluetooth, Change Default Password! and use it.

I put that bit in bold because it's a key step that anyone installing any form of computer equipment should do. its got a bit too much cable and I need to find a tidier way to deal with that, but it is all working 

This is what I see on my phone, the state of the voltages at any point in time and what mode the charger is using (in this case float because the batteries are full

And I can look at the last 30 days to see what it did.. not much because there has not been much drawn from the batteries, but useful when we get going and use the system for real

There is an option in the system where you can connect both batteries to help start in an emergency. I have not as yet put this in because if both are fully charged why would I need it? Time will tell if that is the correct decision

Monday, 3 June 2019

Cold Beer - Second attempt

Back in 2012 I reported on the work I had done to install a 3 way fridge, and then I briefly reported on the issues we had had with smelling gas fumes whilst sleeping in her. This made me decide that I would never use a gas powered fridge and we removed the 3 way fridge 

Since then we have been using an electric cool box, but that has limitations and the performance is not very good and I have been wanting to get a decent front opening fridge installed for a while. Part of the project needed to be upgraded power and key to that was the new solar panel reported in the last posting

The issue is cost. Strangely the decent over landing type fridges are hugely expensive and it's taken a while to find one at a decent price. I finally tracked down a new Vitrifrigo c39i 12/24 and 240v capable unit at about half price with a minor cosmetic defect that would not even be seen once it was installed. 

You can just about see the minor damage on the panel at the bottom left of this picture. I checked that it was not touching any components on the inside and all was fine.

The first phase was to clear out the space and feed some wires from the 12v feed from the leisure battery 

Then I installed the 240v - 24v automatic converter

Finally, being a yorkshireman and tight with money, and because of the position inside a cupboard, instead of purchasing some expensive kit to fasten it in I used a couple of brackets fastened into the lower door fittings which were unused from another project

And added another couple of brackets fastened to a screw in the frame on the top of the fridge  to ensure that it is 100% firm in place

And we are good to go. I've tested it on the 240v/24v feed and from the 12v feed and all seems well.

The initial testing proved that the Danfoss compressor is as quiet as I had hoped. The final phase of this will be to add the split charge system, but in the mean time it's ready and it's time for some cold beer!

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Do Land Rovers Dream of Electric Sheep Part II?

Maybe not, but I was dreaming of a better solar panel setup than the one that she arrived with which was a 10 watt panel installed in 2001 and probably not very efficient at all any more

The first thing to do was remove the old panel I have to admit that she looks a lot better without the panel on the top, but it will be coming back as you will see later

What we have purchased is an 80W flexible panel which fits exactly over the rigid panel that the old 10W panel was made into.  I would have like to go for a 100-150W panel, but this makes refitting an awful lot easier

I also bought a new Victron MPPT controller which feeds the leisure battery. This is more effciient than the old controller and being modern technology also has the capability of being linked to a smartphone app via bluetooth to give me some details on the charge profile of the battery. That's going to be a later addition when I find the bluetooth dongle at a reasonable price probably second hand.

I also bought a heavy duty cable with fuse to go from the controller to the leisure battery  and some solar panel cable to connect from the panel to the controller – I bought the shortest cable because all I really wanted was the connections because I was connecting this into the grey cable which was already in place through the roof.

The previous owner had run a cable with two black cores which was not clear once I had disconnected the old panel so Rhian helped me test with the circuit tester. The one I bought is designed to be cut in ½ so you need twice the length that you have between the panel connections and the controller. It was the same for me with the battery cable – I only needed  a couple of feet, but the spare will come in useful some time.

The new connections were all made in a waterproof housing which had grommets where the cable came through

But for "belt and braces" the whole connection box was sealed with flexible sealant as well

I would have liked to have virtually no loose wires, but that would have meant cutting the connections off the solar panel so I arranged them on the rear. it will mean there is spare cable if I need to adjust things so maybe not a bad thing

From this last picture you can see the old frame which was bolted to the roof-rack and to the blue light bracket on the roof. Once it was connected I took the cardboard I had temporarily put over the cells and things worked first time. I now have more reliable power and a basis of a modern system with reliable wiring which I need for the next 2 projects

Here she is sporting the new panel at the Welsh Festival of Land Rovers

Monday, 20 May 2019

Welsh festival of Land Rovers 2019

The South Wales Land Rover Club were once again the hosts at the Welsh Festival of Land Rovers and we had a fine selection of vehicles on show and a good crowd coming to look at them as you can see

We were there as usual - all setup for camping and a good nights sleep

There were plenty of kindred spirits as you can tell

We had an excellent parade of vehicles on both days, but I only have pictures from the Saturday because I was commentating as you can see (i'm the one in the low-vis jacket) and on Sunday Rhian was driving Katy around the ring. 

Nigel's lovely Series 1 

John's equally nice Series 1 107

An incredibly capable vehicle from North West Flex

From the incredible Jones family a selection including this which looks so much like the toy Defenders

Phil's lovely Series 2A

And Bryn in the wonderful fire tender with Sam Tan waving out of the window

As always an event like this is a nice opportunity for taking pictures like the suspension work on these - Defender on the right and Disco on the left.

Talk about flex...

Clive's wonderful wolf. rebuilt after its "explosive" time in Afghanistan

and to top it all our own transformer.. none other than Difflock, Defender of the Universe

Who was helping us raffle off this toy Defender

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Welsh Festival of Land Rovers 2019 Bookings open

As readers here will note we were proud to have inaugurated and taken part in the Welsh Festival of Land Rovers 2018

It's a display type event hosted by the South Wales Land Rover Club with limited spaces and we have booked our place for 2019 as the bookings are now open 

Click the picture to read all about it and make your bookings

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